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Jim Oberhofer pays it forward

August 23, 2016

Tammy O foundation jpg. copy

When tragedy befalls us, we all hope we’re strong enough to get beyond the pain and move forward.

Such strength is found in Jim Oberhofer (Jim O), the vice president of Kalitta Motorsports. His four-car team holds the current NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car title with Del Worsham, who is mounting another late-season charge toward a repeat championship.

Jim O is the crew chief/tuner on Doug Kalitta’s Top Fuel car and minds the business of J.R. Todd’s dragster, Worsham’s and Alexis DeJoria’s Funny Car entries. The team adds a part-time Funny Car effort starting next week at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Heading into the end of NHRA’s “regular season” at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend, Kalitta lies second in Top Fuel points, Todd is sixth, while Worsham has third-place points and DeJoria is tenth in the Funny Car rankings. The series re-sets after the U.S. Nationals for a six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

With all that on his plate, Jim O is taking on more.

Last year he published “Top Fuel for Life,” which chronicles his missteps in life – and racing – and the life and death of his beloved wife and partner Tammy, who lost her battle with cancer on June 18, 2013. Now Jim O has established The Tammy O Foundation to further celebrate her life; this charitable fund will donate receipts from the book to organizations dear to her heart: BRAKES, Pandas International, Racers for Christ, DRAW and the Infinite Hero Foundation.

The book is available through the Team Kalitta website, trackside at the Patron merchandise trailer or on

While he considered starting a 501(c)(3) charitable fund to distribute receipts from the book, Oberhofer “wanted to do this the right way. This (foundation) allows me to be able to donate to things that I know Tammy would have wanted me to donate to.” Their daughter, “Ashley O and I have made a list and we are going to continue to support as many people as we can.”

The new logo for The Tammy O Foundation was designed by Kenny Youngblood, the legendary drag racing artist, and features one of Tammy O’s favorite things, a panda. The logo will run on all four Team Kalitta machines, starting at the U.S. Nationals outside Indianapolis. “Tammy was very close to Kenny’s wife, Terri, and thought the world of Kenny’s work. I knew he was the perfect person to design a logo for her foundation.”

Before and during their marriage, Tammy Oberhofer was a beloved member of the NHRA and Team Kalitta families. She worked with Kalitta Motorsports for more than two decades, beginning as the team’s public relations representative and later taking over as office manager for the team.

Jim Oberhofer’s generosity of spirit in designating the receipts of his wonderful book to his late wife’s favorite charities is not unexpected. Writing the book helped him understand the how’s and why’s of his actions before and during his wife’s illness and illustrates both the stress and the love that’s incorporated into every facet of motorsports.

By Anne Proffit

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